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Sgàthan Droch


Sharon Weirich




My mother was the most angelic woman ever born, my father and I loved and adored her, she was the reason for life.  But for a reason unknown, she became obsessed with finding a waterfall she remembered from her youth, she wanted to show it to me. Then one fine sunny Saturday morning in June, we found it, 3 miles from her girlhood home. We picnicked there, it was beautiful, magical one might say.

I know I may sound dry as I say this, but… it hurts to think of her now…

As we walked around the waterfall, I noticed something strange about the tree roots that were washed by the waters. They looked like small people, smiling at me.

            “There’ fairies” my mother whispered to me “all the plants and animals here are host to the fae, it is said this is a protected place” Being young I believed her, and tread with extra care.

            “Come Caleb, let us walk to the top” She said to me, taking my father’s hand in hers. It was easy to imagine my mother as a girl, dancing amidst the spray. I know now, that my mother was an innocent, and my father prized that about her.

There was a small switch-back pathway up the right side of the fall, though it was maybe 50 feet in height, as a child it seemed enormous. Halfway up, a tree root snagged my ankle, when I looked down it looked like a hand, grasping me, pulling me into a small gully. I fell on my stomach, looking down, and saw the strangest thing. It appeared to be a large wardrobe, make of wood so black, it seemed to absorb light. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have cried out, would have kept my discovery secret. However, I was but 10 years old. I did cry out, drawing my parent’s attention. Curious as I, we climbed down the gully; witch was just big enough for us, the wardrobe, and room to open its doors.  Despite the waterfall, the gully was dry, with little more than moss growing in it.

            “Well, it’s not going to open itself.” My father said, his deep voice teasing and light. He pulled on the doors, but they didn’t open, he studied the thing closely “there is no locking mechanism, must just be a bit stuck.” He grabbed one knocker, and the corner of the left-hand door, and pulled as hard as he could. He put his shoulder to it, and it slowly creaked open.

            I saw enough to see it was not a wardrobe, but a heavy mirror before a glint of light came off of it, blinding me. I closed my eyes and heard the door suddenly burst open, throwing my father on his back. Then my mother screamed.

            “CLOSE IT!!!  Jonathan, for the love of god, close it, don’t look at the mirror, close the door!!” She shrieked, my father hurriedly complied.

            “What was it love? What did you see?” he asked, taking my terrified and shaking mother in his arms. “Burn it Jon, burn it now, we must destroy it!” she whispered. She then looked to me “Caleb, did you see your reflection in the mirror??” she tore out of my father’s arms, and flung her own around me. “No mama, some light blinded me and I had to close my eyes. What happened?” she ignored my question, and started crying. “Oh my baby, thank you god, for sparing my baby.” she whispered over and over again, holding me so tightly, like she would absorb me into her skin.

            “Vivian, what is it you saw?” My father demanded of her, wondering what had her panicked so.

            “Jon, do you remember the old legends my grandmother told us when we were younger? About the magics of the Tuatha de Danann? The Tuatha de Danann flew into Ireland with their four magical possessions: The Lia Fail, stone of destiny; the spear of their warrior god Lug; the sword of Nuadu; and the inexhaustible cauldron of the good god, the Dagda. They banished the Firblog and defeated the demonic Fomorians. Many centuries later they were defeated and driven to their otherworldly kingdom, Tir nan Og. But the Firblog also had an artifact, a mirror. The eye of Balor. Only Balor could look into it, control its evil magic.  Anyone else who looked into it, would shortly die a horrible death. But it could not be destroyed, so it was hidden, for millennia… until today. I saw my death Jon. I will be dead before midnight.” Her voice grew strangely calm and distant, as if she were reading a story in a book.

            “Vivian, how can you believe such things? They are all myth and folklore, you will not die!” my father said, lifting her up in his arms, a desperation showing on his face.

            “Then prove me wrong, Jon!! Burn it, destroy it, if it is not the Sgàthan Droch it can be ravaged. Prove me wrong!”  She shouted at him. Resolve solidified on his face as he took out his lighter. She then turned to me. “Caleb, I need you to go and get the biggest, longest log you can carry, to smash the mirror with. Jon, help him up.” He put his hands on my waist and lifted me, with such help it was easy to clamber out. I went to do as my mother had asked, as I walked away, I heard my father cuss, the wood was refusing to catch on fire. I heard him mumble something about it being too damp, but the gully had been totally dry. I found a large dead branch and dragged it to my parents.

            “Stay up there Caleb, don’t want glass getting on you.” My father ordered, anger reddening his face. I sat down, unable to see a thing.  I hoped to soon hear the shattering of glass, a southing balm to all our minds.

            I hared the door creak open again. This time my father screamed, then I heard both my parents sobbing. “Mama! Pop!” I cried, scrambling towards them. “Stay there!” they cried in unison. “Don’t come down Caleb, we’ll be up as soon as I break this… thing.” My father yelled up at me. Scared, I did as I was told. I then heard a new sound, as if something heavy was repeatedly striking something impenetrable.  Then my father’s grunting and swearing. He stopped after about an hour, and called out. “Come help your mother, we’ll come back tomorrow with every burly pub-fighter I can find, and remove this abomination form the earth!” I grabbed my mother’s hand, witch I realize for the first time were smaller than mine. My father lifted her as he had lifted me. When she stood beside me, I also noticed how she was now just a little bit taller than I.  When my father joined us, I saw how the top of her tousled, strawberry-kissed blonde hair just came up to his shoulder.

            “It’s almost dark, let’s hurry back to the motor car.” He said, grabbing each of our hands. As we drove back home, the sun set amongst heave grey clouds, a storm was coming, but we were all silent.  The gas lights were being lit by the lantern men as we pulled up to our home.  Number 7 Bannyon lane was squished between numbers 6 and 8, like most London homes. We slowly got out of the car.  I was almost at the door when I heard my parent’s footfalls cease.

            I turned and saw a tall and dirty man, his hand over my mother’s mouth, a look of hatred on my father’s face. I also saw the rather large knife that was at my mother’s throat. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I didn’t have to. A mugger.  In front of our own house, and the street was deserted. I could scream, and bring the neighbors but what would he then do to my mother?  My father handed over his wallet, his watch and his wedding ring, and handed them to the man.  He took his hand away from her mouth to snatch them, and quickly shoved them in his coat.

            But he didn’t let her go, he started edging towards the narrow ally between houses, this time he talked clearly. “Now you be good, no movin’ an’ no call'n the copper’ an’ you’ll have ‘er back in an hour or so.” I watched my father as he watched the man drag my mother into the alley and into the park beyond. I crept towards him, but before I was halfway there, my father bolted, the man had gone out of sight.

            I ran after my father, hearing him and the villain he chased tear through bushes and undergrowth, my mother yelling, praying to god for deliverance.

             Then I herd them stop. I peeked through the shrubs into the grassy pathway where they had been brought up short by a brick wall. The man threw my mother to the side, where she then hit her head on the wall. She fell bonelessly to the ground. My father swung wildly at him, the man ducked and his knife flashed in the dim light, cutting my father’s arm deeply.

            “Din’ have to be this way, mate. Jus’ wanted to ‘ave a little fun with the lady. Now you’re gonna have to die” the man said, his voice hard.

            “You will not touch her” my father growled, and swung again. He hit the man’s jaw, causing a bloody lip. But his knife has flashed out again an in the close quarters, hit something vital. My father fell to the ground, his heart’s blood turning his white shirt red. The man turned his attention back to my mother, who was just regaining consciousness. She saw my father, and screamed, but the man quickly put his hand over her mouth, stifling her. She bit, clawed and kicked at him. I couldn’t see what was happening. Then he screamed. His knife, once again unsheathed, struck downward, and my mother’s struggling ceased.

            The man then stood, and I could see one eye socked was bloody, the eye gone. “Bloody shame, oh well…” he mumbled. He tuned to walk away but my father wasn’t dead yet. He grabbed the murderer’s ankles. The man stabbed at my father, but he didn’t feel it. He latched onto the man, eventually gaining told of his head. In horrid silence and with strength born of rage, he slammed the man’s head into the wall, over and over and over.  Until there was nothing left but a bloody pulp.

            “Vivian…?” my father murmured, crawling to my mother’s body. Her neck and chest torn to shreds by the mugger’s cruel knife. Only then did I step out of the bushes, into a scene born of nightmares. He gently caressed her face, leaving trails of blood from her murderer on her fair skin. He did not notice me, but only whispered her name repeatedly, until the angel of death claimed him as well. I did the only thing I could do. I screamed.

            Before long, I of course drew attention. A policeman came, who inevitably brought in more. And still I screamed. When they covered the bodies, I was able to stop. They took me to the police station, it was a long carriage ride, motor cars still being quite rare. Hesitantly, they started asking questions. I wanted to know something first.

            “Please sir, what time is it?” I asked the lieutenant.  He looked startled at such a mundane question, but obligingly, took out his pocket watch and flipped it open.

            “11:58 son. Why?”  That was when I began to cry.